Topics of Interest

Patient Information Norwood, MA Mansfield, MA

Bisphosphonates: An Emerging Concern for the Dental Profession

Bisphosphonates are commonly prescribed for the treatment of osteoporosis or for the management of advanced cancers. With more than 22 million prescriptions for Fosamax last year alone, it is one of the most commonly used medications in our country. Other popular bisphosphonates include Aredia, Boniva, Evista & Zometa, among others. Unfortunately, this popular drug has been linked to the development of osteonecrosis of the jaw, or ONJ, a rare and serious condition that causes breakdown and death of the jaw bone.

Osteonecrosis of the Jaw (ONJ)

Osteonecrosis of the jaw typically develops after dental work, and because bisphosphonates remain in the body for many months or years after treatment, even patients who are no longer using bisphosphonates are at an increased risk for ONJ. Individuals suffering from ONJ may experience severe infections with painful symptoms like facial discomfort or numbness, gum swelling, drainage, and poor gum healing.

Additionally, victims of ONJ may experience tooth loss and other disfiguring side effects. Treatment of osteonecrosis of the jaw may include long-term antibiotic use, surgical reduction of damaged bone, or similar alternatives. However, ONJ is extremely resistant to most treatments and careful planning is required, as invasive surgical techniques can worsen the condition.


Massachusetts Lighthouse